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IndyCar won’t add Mexico City race for 2018 season

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On Thursday, INDYCAR has confirmed it won’t be adding an extra round of the championship in Mexico City for its 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

A Mexico round was left off the initial 2018 calendar released, but Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles said on a teleconference later that day that Mexico was still possible and projected for August.

Had it been added, it seemed to get set for the August 3-5, 2018 weekend, which would have been a week after the Honda Indy 200 from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

But alas, it won’t happen. First reported by the Sports Business Journal and confirmed via IndyCar’s website, the series said it’ll continue to work on a race down the road.

“INDYCAR is invested in the process of putting together the right deal with a partner we are certain can deliver this race,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We are not at the point where we can finalize a contract for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season and felt that we couldn’t delay the decision any longer, in fairness to our teams, manufacturers and other stakeholders who need time to properly prepare for an event of such magnitude.

“INDYCAR appreciates the rich racing history in Mexico and we would like to be part of that once again. We will keep working with the intent of making an INDYCAR event in Mexico City a reality in the future.”

The last North American open-wheel series race in Mexico was to cap off the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, when Sebastien Bourdais won over Will Power and Oriol Servia.

MEXICO CITY, DF – NOVEMBER 11: Sebastien Bourdais driver of the #1 McDonald’s Newman Haas Lanigan Racing Panoz DP0 celebrates with second placed Will Power and third placed Oriol Servia after winning the ChampCar World Series Grand Premio Tecate on November 11, 2007 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”